Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, former vice abbot of the Bhavana Society Buddhist Forest Monastery and retreat center in High View, has an intriguing back story, told in his book, “One Night’s Shelter: Autobiography of an American Monk.”
Born Joseph Scott DuPrez in California, he served in Vietnam, then took off across the hippie trail in Europe and India, was jailed for smuggling hashish in Afghanistan and then — after attending a meditation retreat in Nepal — abandoned the stoner life and became a globe-trotting monk.
Rahula, 68, will visit Charleston and Huntington Thursday through Saturday, making several public appearances. I interviewed him via email in advance of his visit
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Q: What was your early life growing up?
RAHULA: I was born and grew up in Southern California. I had a typical middle-class upbringing — went to activities with the local Methodist Church youth group, wasn’t particularly religious-minded.
We lived in Riverside, about 50 miles away from the coast. My brother and I started surfing in 1962 when the Beach Boys songs were getting popular. We never did get particularly good at surfing.
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Q: How did you wind up in Vietnam?
RAHULA: I graduated from high school in 1966 and enlisted in the Army in 1967. I did not really have any pros or cons about the war, but all my friends were either getting drafted or enlisting.
I thought, what the heck. I would have eventually gotten drafted anyway. Continue reading A Q-and-A with Bhante Rahula